Retro Review: Once & Always by Judith McNaught

Posted April 21, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Retro Review: Once & Always by Judith McNaughtReviewer: Rowena
Once and Always by Judith McNaught
Series: Sequels #1
Also in this series: Once and Always

Publication Date: September 20th 1990
Pages: 400
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three-half-stars

Across the vast ocean sailed Victoria Seaton, a free-spirited American beauty left suddenly orphaned and alone. Eager to claim her long-lost heritage, she was amazed at the formal elegance of Wakefield, the sumptuous English estate of her distant cousin...the notorious Lord Jason Fielding. Sought after at plays, operas, and balls by London's most fashionable ladies, Jason remained a mystery to Victoria. Bewildered by his arrogant demeanor, yet drawn to his panther-like grace, she came to sense the searingly painful memories that smoldered in the depths of his jade-green eyes. Unable to resist her spitfire charm, Jason gathered her at last into his powerful arms, ravishing her lips with his kisses, arousing in her a sweet, insistent hunger. Wed in desire, they were enfolded in a fierce, consuming joy, free at last from the past's cruel grasp. Then, in a moment of blinding anguish, Victoria discovered the shocking treachery that lay at the heart of their love...a love she had dreamed would triumph...Once And Always.

***THIS REVIEW WILL BE FILLED WITH SPOILERS SO KEEP SCROLLING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK AND DON’T WAIT TO BE SPOILED***

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Alright, you’ve been warned…

It’s been ages since I’ve read this book so when my book club chose it for last month’s discussion, I knew that I was going to have to re-read it since I couldn’t remember anything aside from the gift that Tory gave Jason and that she kissed his back.

And that thing. For those of you guys who have read this book before, you know what I’m talking about. I’ll come back to that in a little bit.

Victoria Seaton known affectionately as Tory has been shipped to live in England with distant relatives after her parents die in a carriage accident. Victoria and her sister are sent to live with family they don’t know and have never heard anything about. Victoria looks just like her mother so she’s sent to live with Charles Fielding and her sister goes to live with their grandmother. When Victoria shows up at the Fielding residence, she’s met by Jason Fielding, Charles’ nephew who is the heir to all of Charles titles and businesses.

Jason wants nothing to do with a gold digging hussy from America and if Charles wants to house her, he’ll have to come and fetch the girl himself. Jason’s past has soured him on all relationships and he really wants nothing to do with anyone. He’s cold and he’s bitter and he’s been like that ever since his wife and son died a few years ago.

This wasn’t an easy romance to read. I remember loving the hell out of this book when I first read it. This was one of those romances that were filled with moments that I absolutely loved. Moments that broke my heart and then moments that enraged me so.

Jason was such a broken man that lived each day doing whatever he damn well pleased. He had not one iota of care left in his system for anyone outside of himself. He didn’t let himself get close to anyone and he preferred it that way and then Victoria Seaton comes into his life and she’s the complete opposite of him. She’s bright and happy where he’s dark and cold and she’s got this courage that shines from within and a caring touch for everyone that crosses her path. They shouldn’t have made sense together but over the course of the book, you see that they do.

I loved that when Jason finally owns up to his feelings for Tory, the love he showers her with made me all swoony. I loved that Victoria was able to reach Jason when nobody else could and I loved that her love for him grew over time and once she let herself fall out of love with Andrew and into love with Jason, I loved how all in she was. I loved seeing her thaw Jason’s heart with the gifts, by caring about his welfare and by just being herself. She was probably my very favorite part of this book.

What I didn’t love was how Jason jumped to conclusion after conclusion about Tory’s every move. It didn’t matter how out of character he knew it was, she was guilty before found innocent. I didn’t love the way that Charles manipulated Jason and Tory, no matter what his reasons were for doing so. And I didn’t love when Jason went to London right after their wedding and we find out who he was in London with.

I remember reading this book back in the day and being so completely sure that Jason didn’t cheat on Victoria when he was in London. Reading this book now? I am completely sure of the opposite. What’s funny is that while discussing this very thing with my book club, we were split down the middle. The ones who didn’t think he cheated, didn’t want to believe he did but the others? The others read it for themselves and it was plain as day that Jason was up to no good in London. Sure it was a sign of the times since he wasn’t the only Lord to keep a mistress but it was so disappointing to realize that he wasn’t the hero that I remembered. The hero that I was so sure of before. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and a bit more cynical but to me, it was so obvious that Jason didn’t spend his nights alone in London and that hurt my heart.

Reading this book all over again reminded me how angsty McNaught romances are. She really pushes you over the edge, emotionally before dragging you back by your hair. This book was an emotional roller coaster that knocked me on my ass more than once. I rejoiced with Tory and Jason, I raged at the both of them but in the end? I was so hot damn glad that they got their shit together and did right by each other. I came full circle with this read and while I didn’t absolutely love it this time around, I wasn’t fully disappointed either. I would re-read this one again.

So if you’re going to read this one, prepare yourself. It’s not easy, the characters will drive you crazy but you’ll be okay. Haha.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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4 responses to “Retro Review: Once & Always by Judith McNaught

  1. Not sure about the cheating but this is my favorite McNaught historical. Without giving away the ending…..omg the ending, cried so hard. I love a tortured hero that is healed by love. “sigh”

  2. 1) He totally cheated.
    2) He totally raped her.
    3) I effing hate this book and think Jason should burn with the heat from 1000 blazing suns. Bastard.
    4) Tory was a dumbass and she drove me crazy.

    Oh McNaught. How I miss thee…

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